3 Hard Truths About Adult Friendship

June 10
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Is it possible that I am becoming an introvert?

I asked Jeff this question during our 7 millionth hour driving from Tennessee to New Jersey, and back, last week. He looked at me like I just asked if we should start harvesting human kidneys to sell on the black market. Of course he assumed that all the time in a small car with 2 small boys was causing some type of temporary mental disorder – like, instead of Seasonal Affect, I was coming down with a case of Road Trip Dementia. I don’t think he ever gave me an answer more than a head shake and an eye roll.

Here is what I find is happening: I am craving a smaller world. I want to shrink my life down to something comfortable and manageable. Fantasies of simplicity and minimalism dance through my head while sitting at red lights. For the first time in the history of being me, I find that I want to retreat to recharge. And this feels foreign. So foreign in fact, that for a blink I wonder if the spirit of some quiet old lady took over my body while I was sleeping one night.

I have always thrived on the energy of other people. Being social is the way my batteries get their voltage. It is in my DNA to connect with others. Just ask anyone who meets me for the first time – I can come across like a borderline stalker. Shortly after “nice to meet you” I am asking personal questions, mid-convo I am punching your digits into my phone and by the end of our chat I am hugging all over you and we have plans for lunch next week. That is just how I do. It’s a lot for some people, I can see it in their half-scared eyes and feel it in their stiff-armed A-frame hug. My brand of friendship is not for everyone and that is perfectly fine. Because what I am coming to realize is that what I want is not casual chit chat, I want to deeply connect with the people in my life. I want to get down to the nitty gritty and let it all hang out – the good, the bad, the embarrassing – and have that be OK on both ends. I want to walk away feeling like the love was spread deep and wide.

But if there is one thing you learn in 38 years of borderline stalking and overzealous befriending, it is that the love is not always going to be reciprocated. I have learned three hard truths about adult friendships:

    • Rule #1: Not all adults behave like adults.

This is so disappointing. That is all.

  • Rule #2: Not everyone is ready to bare their souls over a glass of wine and hummus.
    Everybody knows that a glass of wine + a tub of hummus = soul confessions. Right? Wrong. Not everyone wants to keep it real and that’s their business. Life makes it hard for humans to be comfortable in their own skin. It’s work – daily work – to show up and admit that you have flaws and don’t have all the answers and are vulnerable. It’s not just work, it’s down right scary at times! Emotional scar tissue grows thick in order to cover what we hope to keep hidden. Peeling that away and revealing our imperfections can be heart stopping…but it can also be freeing. But it can only be done in the presence of others who honor and respect that kind of courage. Which brings me to #3.
  • Rule #3 Not everyone deserves to participate my nitty gritty.
    Because of the people who reside in rule #1, I have learned that my soul is more precious and private than it has been                    treated. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve and reveal my soul to too many people. I trusted too easily because I wanted to believe that people are kind and will care for my heart as I would for theirs. What I have found is that these people do exist, but they are not on every corner as my wishful self has conjured. They are few but they are mighty and when you find them you need to stick to them like those stupid sticky hand things that come in kid birthday party goody bags stick to my walls.

So this is why I question my recent (possible) meta-morphosis to introversion: because I want less to be around many people for the sake of buzzing energy and want more to surround myself with fewer people who bring deep meaning into our friendship. I want to hang with the people who have earned my nitty and my gritty; who will let me spill it, then clean it up; who will check their fears and vanities at the door and be authentic. I want to high-five and fist bump and hug it out – hell, I’ll even dance it out with you if you’re down! Because there’s nothing I dig more than a good post-deep-talk-dance-party…and you can run.tell.that.

Does this make me an convert-introvert? Probably not. I will still continue to scare people off at dinner parties because I have known them 10 minutes and already have 3 nicknames for them. They are not going to be my new bestie, but I still have some love I can spread to them (on a very appropriate, acquaintance level). Besides, I don’t need a new bestie, that role is already filled. In fact, my life is abundant with soul sisters, pioneers and gurus who I am humbled to call friend. What this means is I am finally accepting things and people for what they are and not what I want them to be. I am finding my way in a mysterious space where introversion and extroversion make out.

It’s my new happy place.
And it’s the perfect place for dancing things out.

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